How To Tackle Diversity and Inclusion at Your Startup
And why it’s a good idea; it boosts creativity and scales your business
As we celebrate world day for cultural diversity around the globe today, we wanted to highlight the benefits of a diverse team when building a startup and reflect on how we could increase diversity and inclusion to become more competitive as a sector.
Diversity and inclusion have increasingly become top of mind for many people and businesses with the racial tensions felt across the world. One of the triggers was the killing of George Floyd last year, which prompted nationwide protests in the US and globally, sparking a continuation of conversations about race, justice, policing and politics in the workplace and at home.
In this recent article by diversity in tech, they highlight just around 15% of the UK workforce are BAME backgrounds. Women represent 17% of the Uk workforce; 8% are considered disabled and 20% over the 50s.
With many articles and reports on male dominance in technology, coupled with an overall lack of diversity in hiring, the industry is still lagging behind other areas of business. However, as the COVID pandemic created a knock-on effect with so many companies going digital, the demand for this skill set has increased exponentially. In response, this year, more than ever, tech employers are making diversity and inclusion in their organisations a priority.
In Europe, this 2019 state of European tech report, commissioned by global investment firm Atomico, - in collaboration with 20 European companies and 70 European tech companies- paints a picture of the state of tech diversity and inclusion. The report highlighted the well-known stat that 92% of funding went to all-male teams, and shockingly remained the same as the previous year.
If you look at race, age, education and socio-economic backgrounds, it uncovers more issues: 43% of Black.African/Caribbean founders have experienced discrimination - of which 80% link it to their ethnicity.
Black founders represented only 1% of the more than 1,200 respondents. Anyone from a less privileged background is less likely to become an entrepreneur. A typical startup team weighs towards men than women in 2021
Given the current situation, there is room for improvement. One place to start is to discuss race, diversity and inclusion regularly with people you know - at home and the workplace. Productive conversations, particularly at the workplace, will facilitate discussion about what’s working and not working in the current hiring plan.
We speak from experience. Although we are a small team here at Canaree, we have representation from eight different countries, 40% are women, we natively speak several languages, including software code!
We have addressed culture and diversity in a new way before the pandemic grew out of working remotely, like so many startups. We invest in creating an inclusive culture where everyone is appreciated, heard, which can be a challenge when working with people from different cultural backgrounds. However, we have seen the benefits a diverse team can bring to the business by unlocking creative solutions, brainstorming, product roadmap planning and team dynamics.
Apart from the technical skills required to succeed at a growing startup, each team member must align with the company direction, vision and values. Startup recruitment agency Acelr8 talks about building a diverse team to help to scale a startup business in this guide.
Once you decide to become more diverse and inclusive, focus on, then adapt the interviewing process to your company needs instead of falling back on doing things that ticked the box.
Building and promoting workplace diversity is not only the right thing to do, it's a smart business decision.
According to research: companies with diverse teams:
- - Are more likely to be innovative leaders in their sector (according to Josh Bersin)
- - Generate 19% higher revenues (reported by Boston Consulting Group)
- - Outperform industry benchmarks by 35% (as found by McKinsey's research)
- - 70% more likely to capture a new market (statistic by Harvard Business Review)
Thinking about how to tackle diversity and inclusion in your business? The themes of race, inclusion, identity at work can be intimidating, so we put together a list of podcasts to explore and help you on your journey:
Reworked: The Diversity and Inclusion Podcast - was created by the team at the EW Group, is a full-service diversity and inclusion consultancy with almost 30 years of expertise. The podcast discusses best practice and wellbeing tips. Learn how you can rework your company culture to make it more inclusive.
The Diversity Gap - Available on Apple, iTunes, Spotify and Simplecast, the Diversity Gap is a leader harnessing the global diversity campaign. Hosted by Bethany Wilkinson, who has decades of experience in racial justice work and her premise is on the wide gap between what we intend and what we do. Episodes discuss topics like addressing casual racism, whiteness, unlearning racism, how to be the change you want at work and how to lead teams during a racial crisis.
In Good Company - This podcast, created by founder Otegha Uwagba, and author of 'Toolkit for working women’,. Topics covered include racism in beauty, microaggressions, invisible labour, office politics and raising investment.
Innovation for All - This podcast, fuelled by host Sheana Ahlqvist, who has a PhD in Quantitative Social Psychology, explores how diversity and inclusion impact innovation and technology features interviews with experts in technology, design, AI and business.
Downtime Upload - Computer Weekly podcast recently highlighted an episode called - the death of the tech startups in a pandemic, bolstering diversity - covering the decline in UK startups with more than 1,000 dissolved last year. Included in this episode is a lively discussion about the importance of diversity and inclusion in UK tech startups.
Women in Tech - is an organisation founded in 2015 to help bolster female careers in tech in the UK. They have curated a list of recommended podcasts for women looking to explore their potential at startups.
Techish - was created by two millennial tech founders in the UK, Abadeso Osunsade and Michael Berhane, representing the voice of young, urban entrepreneurs. Although the podcast covers tech, pop culture and life, they also focus on the experience of minority founders in the tech and entrepreneurship world. They often cover topics related to racism and sexism in current news or events and weave them into their episodes, making them refreshing and lively.
From caring for your employee wellbeing and mental health to tackling gender, race and age inequality, improving diversity in tech is crucial for progression and quality of talent needs to accelerate to establish the UK as a frontrunner of new and advanced products and services. Not to mention creating the next unicorn!